This is Geoffrey Woo, September 18th, 2020. And for my friends on the West Coast, we've been through a lot. Obviously the entire world right now is going through a global pandemic. And on top of that, we have to go through air pollution and dystopian, future orange skies on the Western seaboard. I've actually tried to escape some of that smoke by jumping down to Southern California, but not much luck here. The air quality index is not great down in Southern California, and it's pretty consistent across the entire Western half of America. And you see a lot of that smoke actually moving out East where there's red sun and red skies, even all the way out to Maine. So very interesting times, but we'll actually talk a little bit about that, but I wanted to say hi and give an introduction to Free Fatty Fridays.
We have an awesome lineup of questions going from air pollution all the way down to measuring metabolic flexibility and efficiency to autophagy. So we'll get right into it. And as a quick reminder, Free Fatty Friday is a fun, rapid fire question and answer session with myself, bringing in my experience, my stories, my best practices and tips from human performance, ketosis, longevity, fasting, ketogenic diet, all things related to human metabolism. And of course, we're also going to be bringing in more ideas, more concepts, and maybe get into a little bit of trouble talking about politics, culture society at large.
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Let's get started! Our first question this week is from
John T., he asks about the air pollution. How are you handling it? And what can we do about the air?
Thank you for asking. I mean, a good portion of Americans are breathing toxic air right now. And I just remember last Wednesday, when you saw the viral photos of the orange sky, that looked like brutal blade runner. That was a very interesting day for me because I'd actually wake up pretty early for a conference call with an East coast group and we'll go at 6:00 AM, it was dark and having woken up that early in a little bit of time. So Hey, maybe it just usually this dark in the fall and take the conference call wrap up around 9:00 AM, I'd look around and it's still dark and it's actually orange. And even from our circadian rhythm perspective. I just had a very off day let alone from AQI air quality index of 250 plus.So what can we do about it before diving into best practices?
Honestly, there's not much given that we're all in this ecosystem and if the actual surrounding air is toxic very hard to escape it. But let's just define some of the numbers and get a sense of the quantification here. So when you see this AQI or air quality index, what are they actually measuring? Well, they're measuring the amount of particular matter within some volume of air. So usually that unit is micro gram per meter cube. So within a cubic volume of air, a cubic meter, so one meter, one meter, one meter cube, you can actually collect and aggregate all the particulate matter and then weigh it out. And that's measured in micrograms. So its actually very, very small and not very heavyweight, but, if you aggregate all of that dust together and imagine that you're actually accumulating that into your lungs, that adds up a lot of toxicity.
Now what's good? What's considered bad? Usually you can also break down the particulate matter into particulates size. So you really want to be watching out for particulate matter that's less than 2.5 microns apart. So you can see 2.5 microns, less than 10 microns long. There's also specific particular matter size that you can also take in conjunction with how much volume or mass you're consuming into your lungs. Now, usually under a hundred is considered okay, you gotta be worried if it's sensitive and if it's over one 50, it's considered actually unsafe. And one way to just make it a lot more tangible, understandable is that every 22 micrograms per cubic meter a particular matter is considered about one cigarette of consumption. So if you are breathing one full day in something of AQI 220, well that's 22x10, that's equivalent to 10 cigarettes consumed in that day.
So that gives you a rule of thumb to think about the toxicity in the air. Now, what can I do about it? Well, again, not much other than stay inside and hopefully you have air filters. I will shut all the windows that least disrupts the particulates coming through the cracks in your windows. And then from there, if you have a HEPA that actually is rated to purify and clear out particular monitor sizes of less than that, 2.5 micron range even better, but of course that takes money and obviously a lot of that stuff is out of stock right now. One thing to also consider is don't exercise. And I think that's a very rare statement coming from myself, but if you are actually running outside, you're actually bringing and drawing that particulate deeper into your lungs. And it takes more effort, more time, for the kind of micro hairs on your lung cells to actually clear that out.
So, other than that, it does not much else he can do. So keep tight, keep safe, and then don't necessarily go and try to set a personal record. Obviously stay active, but don't try to be drawing in and really bearing those particulates deep into your lungs. Other than that, let's hopefully improve our force management and hopefully improved climate. Those are some of the macro things that we should be considering the long-term, but then of course, acute short term, don't go outside as minimize breathing of toxic air, right? I would never recommend sucking down 10 cigarettes a day. And we shouldn't be doing that walking outside. Its gonna instantly kill you? Not necessarily. I mean, I would go about doing our business. You can wear N-95 mask that actually filters out some of that particular matter. It's rated to 95% of that. Those are some crutches along the way.
So short term, avoid air, long term, let's do something about policy with forest management and climate. And I went a little bit over, but I hope that's helpful for you, John and where almost 30 seconds, 45 seconds over. We'll stop there and go to the next question.
This question comes from my regular correspondent on social, airJoshB. So thanks for asking a question airJoshB, welcome on the program!
He asks, in thinking about measuring metabolic efficiencies without access to much of the cool tech and measurements afforded to elite athletes, do you think analyzing ketone glucose index could be a useful way to monitor state?
That's a great question and let's get the timer started now. So let's define what the ketone glucose index is. So Professor Thomas Seyfried actually popularized this notion that if you figure out and calculate the ratio of your blood ketones, so your blood glucose, that could be a useful therapeutic measure for being in “therapeutic ketosis”, which may we have applications for diseases like cancer, and actually had a conversation with Thomas Seyfried back a couple of years ago. We should actually catch up and talk to him about this topic in more detail, but essentially the quick summary on that is that a higher ketone ratio to glucose means that you're in a more beneficial state to potentially starve a cancerous cell, which is very glycolytic or very glucose driven, whereas normal cells can oxidize ketones. So if you push your metabolism more into a high ketone to glucose ratio, it's a way to measure and quantify how much in deep ketosis are you.
Now, how does this translate in terms of metabolic efficiency to athletic context or a way to understand metabolic state? Now, this is a good question. So what is standard of care? What is the state of the art? Well, a lot of you have probably have heard of VO2 max testing, and then this crossover threshold where you can actually measure your respiratory quotient, which is your carbon dioxide volume release with your oxygen intake.
And you can actually, from that ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen, actually understand whether your body is metabolizing more fat or more glucose. So 0.7 means you're burning a hundred percent fat and closer to one means that you're burning a hundred percent carbohydrates. So if you can actually do respiratory quotient testing to VO2max and you see that threshold crossover where you go more fat driven versus glucose driven, you can actually kind of start telling how fat adapted you are. So if you are quite fat adapted, your crossover threshold is very, very close to VO2 max and super elite athletes I've seen, they never actually cross over. They're doing a hundred percent of VO2 max, and yet they're still primarily metabolizing fat over glucose, which is quite astounding. So how can we think about ketone glucose index? This is an interesting question because without measuring the flux, the turnover of ketones in your body or glucose in your body, if you're just in snapshots of those two measures, it might not necessarily be useful. So in my experience of what I've seen with the data, what I would expect, if you are a fat adapted athlete, what would happen when you're doing exercise, I would expect your glucose, actually, that subtly rise over time. As you have gluconeogenesis, you need to have more glycolytic load as you're pushing your body.
I would expect ketones to rise mildly and then sit around .3 .5, but not really elevate too much until you're really completely depleted. And you're maybe at the end of a race, and maybe you see that cadence finally rise there. And the reason why you would expect to see this is because you actually want to see turnover or utilization of ketones. You don't want to have substrate just sitting your blood, not being uptaken into your muscle and then being metabolized. So you don't necessarily want to, or expect to see 3.0 5.0 millimole ketones if you're an elite athlete, that's actually inefficient because you have all this substrate it's not being utilized. So I think if you had a continuous ketone monitor and the continuous glucose monitor, that would be useful to get snapshot data of whether you're expecting to see some model of ketosis and uptake of gluconeogenesis. And I think that's like relatively useful if you're actually be able to see some metabolic flexibility there, but the gold standard, the super interesting thing to measure would be to detect the flux or turnover of ketones, meaning that if you're converting ketones constantly, and you don't see that buildup, which is what you measure when you do a finger stick, that's what is a gold standard. So I would expect to see high turnover of glucose, high tote turnover of ketones. You wouldn't necessarily expect too much change on the ketone to glucose ratio because while the numbers stay relatively stable, you expect actual flux or a turnover, or the second derivative of that internal numbers changing while the overall ratio doesn't change.
So hopefully that made sense from a mathematical perspective or a physical perspective, the difference between the ratio that doesn't account for the actual second the derivative of that turnover. So the quick summary there is that the turnover, the utilization is what's important less. So the spot check of a ketone to glucose ratio, so useful for making sure one is a nutritional ketosis for potential therapeutic, or just confirming keto adaptation, but from sporting or performance perspective, what's more interesting is turnover rather than a snap glucose ketone, a snapshot ratio. Alright, hopefully that is helpful for you air Josh B and I'm again, a little bit over, these are, these are great questions. I'm about six minutes and I'm bad at this.
Let's move on to question three, question 3 is from Ubaldo Alvarez and he asks a politics question. So I asked for it, let's try to do this and not get into too much trouble.
He asked, Why have most of the liberals declared war on meat, cows, etc???
Okay. Let's try to cap this at five minutes starting now. Why have liberals declared war on meat in cows? So first I don't think nutrition choices should be necessarily aligned with politics. They should be completely orthogonal or unrelated, right? Because why should our social policies or economic policies relate to our food choices for our personal health? However, that said, I do know what you're talking about, right? I think that definitely seems to be this confluence of Hollywood, liberal, vegan, that seems to be a sphere and then you have conservative, hunter, gun, rights, meets, carnivore, and there's been some magazine articles that kind of talk about these clusters. So I don't think it should be this way, but the fact is what I observed in terms of just the comments and feedback that I've gotten just from our small program.
It definitely seems to be some political alignment with diet choices and politics. And for me, I think I just care about personal health, right? Like for me, I'm trying to optimize health and that alone could be in its own silo. Why do I think that there does seem to be kind of like a political nutritional alignment? I think it's from the notion that liberals tend to want to see progression and change, and there definitely seems to be an environmental factor there. And a lot of the plant paste ideology is around plants are more environmentally friendly or efficient than animals. Also factory farming is not moral, not ethical. And it's very mean, and we want to extend out human rights on to animal rights. So I empathize with those arguments and I can see why that comes together. Other, however, I think we should also align our rail and some of the facts around environmentalism and around, animal morality or the ethics of treating animals.
So if you actually break down the environmental costs and I actually recently had a really great conversation with Rob Wolf who wrote a book that really goes in is essentially a PhD dissertation. In some of these topics, you really bricks on environmental costs, the true costs there as all of the ethics around basically factory farming, yeah and the animals killed through that process through pesticides and mass reaping of the harvest. So the clarity around environmental cost and how many animal mammalian lives are killed. The math and the evidence does not necessarily align where the liberal conservative point of views necessarily stack it, meaning that if you kill one cow to feed a family for six months versus killing a hundred voles and rodents in a field of corn to feed that same family for six months, and then you start adding on transportation costs for shipping bananas from South America, or mangoes from Thailand and add all that CO2 costs, the actual environmental costs for that environmental perspective of wanting to be a greener earth, which is especially salient to all of us right now being stuck in smoke hellscape on the West coast.
The math is actually debatable there. And then of course from the life saved or lives expended perspective, are we really, I don't know, it's above my pay grade to decide is a hundred rodents worth one cow, or what's the trade-off there, and that's a choice that we all need to think about. But to me, I think if you follow my program, I think me consumption is inherent part of our culture and of our evolution. I think it's very clear that a vegan diet stand alone is not a complete diet. I think it's very hard to get enough high quality protein, as well as some of the micronutrients like vitamin B-12 that just not existent without supplementation in just plant foods alone. I'm not saying that I am not a hundred percent carnivore. I am not afraid of animal products. And again these choices are not from a political ideology perspective. These are choices that I've made because I've looked at the data and evidence on what optimizes my health, my metabolism, my longevity. But again, I can see why some of these concepts get conflated, but if you start teasing into the science of what is actual environmental cost, what does the actual CO2 footprint, what does the actual moral cost of life sade when he actually account for the full supply chain, the full life cycle of these products from making a fake meat burger from canola oil, soybeans and all of that that's shipped in packaged from all over around the world versus pasture raised, smart farming practices that actually has negative carbon footprint that actually stores more carbon back into the soil. Maybe some liberals would actually think that eating very ethically raised, pasture raised, meats is actually more green, more environmental. So hopefully this opens up the lens a little bit to not just make this into a left versus right ideological, religious war, but something that actually prioritizes what I think the goals are, which is we should optimize for our personal health, our personal healthcare costs, which impacts societal healthcare costs and system. And of course we should also consider environmental impact and the moral ethical impact.
And when he actually looked at the evidence, a lot of these things are not as clear as what, as a sort of propagandize on first pass with whether it's liberal or conservative media out there. So do the work. And then from there, you can actually make an informed decision of how you want to live.
I went almost a minute and a half over, but I think there's a little bit worth it just to make sure that we don't come at this from a political gotcha level, but actually break down the arguments, kind of domain by domain, from health, from environmental, from ethics, from morality. And then actually see if that actually how that reconciles with the typical liberal progressive point of view or their typical conservative point of view. And again, just from my perspective, I don't think health is political. I want to live healthy. I want to perform well longer more of like vitality in my life. And that's something that is a human right in a, in a human goal that I think everyone can agree on regardless of your political leanings or ideologies.
So Uvaldo, hopefully that's helpful to you. Let's not hate liberals, conservatives. Let's just be healthier humans individually, and as a society and hopefully not kill the planet earth all along the way. And it's hopefully make it better along the way. How about that? All right. That wasn't too bad. I think we can talk more about politics and culture and all of that. That was fun, please, if you wanna hear me pontificate on more of those topics, please come in and engage.
Now let's move on to question 4. We have a question from SimplyHuman and this person, this human, asks:
Will the baking soda neutralize the stomach acid cause slowed digestion of food, therefore less absorption.
Awesome. Great question. I'll get started here. Timer on. This is probably, in a question in reflection to a recent podcast, talking about baking soda stacked with exogenous ketones, particularly Ketone Esters to enhance sporting performance. To the question directly. Yes. Baking soda does neutralize stomach acid. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonates, so it's sodium positive CAD ion, ionize with bicarbonate, which has room to absorb one proton, which is assets are proton donors, right? So if you mix it with hydrochloric acid, which is our stomach acid, yes, you're going to that acid base reaction.
So yes, baking soda will neutralize stomach acid and cause potential indigestion issues, which brings up the broader point here, which is that baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is very notoriously hard to incorporate into a pre-workout, acute ergogenic protocol. I've talked with world experts, athletes that have experimented with baking soda and some groups just completely avoid baking soda at all. Because if you overdose, under dose, you can literally get someone to be pooping their pants, and you're not going to get elite performance for maybe that two to 5% gain, if you have a stomach ache and you need to go to the bathroom.
So for some organizations, some groups that risk of GI distress is not worth the benefit of baking. So, that's an interesting can of worms to open up there. But I would say that it looks like if you are smart with dosing sodium bicarbonate or baking soda slowly dripping that in and not having a huge bolus or a huge whopping teaspoon of this stuff all at once, there is a pretty reasonable way to increase your buffer capacity in your system over a period of time. So yeah, I think you've looked at a lot of anti-acids that you would treat that's kind of over the counter remedies for acid reflux. Oftentimes the active ingredient is sodium bicarbonate.
My recommendations there is follow some of the standard protocols of how to take baking soda. To see efficacy, oftentimes you need quite a lot, you need to ingest upwards of 20 grams. I think the rule of thumb is around 300 milligrams per body weight kilogram, to see the beneficial ergogenic effects in randomized control trial studies. So that's a lot of sodium bicarbonate. So a lot of people would just kind of dose it hours before with meals and slowly kind of drink and re-top up on bicarbonate throughout a day, maybe the day before going to the competition. One of the interesting areas that I'm excited to personally research more about is seeing some interesting literature where baking soda sodium bicarbonate actually increases endogenous ketogenesis. So it seems that if there's a better, uh, sodium by combinate status, your body generates its own ketones back faster.
An it's been studied in humans as well as in, uh, in vitro cell cultures where, uh, the ketogenesis in liver cells is almost 2, 3, X more when there's sodium by carbonate and that system, it's also been replicated in an RCT trial done in I believe 1990 around baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, and fasting. So one potential a hack in terms of baking soda, not just eating for performance, but just from a fasting or ketogenic di perspective, use a little bit of baking soda, maybe induce ketogenesis, which helps with keto adaptation so you bridge that energy deficit from having low glucose and low ketones. Maybe if you have big and sort of induce accelerated ketogenesis, you'll keto adapt quicker. I haven't personally used baking soda in that fashion, but something I want to be I want to try, so I might actually do a CGM experiment and try a baking soda on and off to get that any calls, one data point and talk more about it and maybe add it to recommendations for fasting or newbie fasters are people looking to adapt in the kitchen diet, maybe baking soda It could be part of that toolkit here that has been under discussed under-utilized, maybe for a good reason because of the GI potential issues. And you're getting not as much bang for the buck in terms of pooping her pants versus getting a little bit of an extra ketogenesis. But that said, I think there's been good protocols to be able to take in baking soda without having to poop your pants, so that's something that we should further explore. And look like, even mineral water has a little bit of sodium bicarbonate, right? So we're obviously consuming some level of buffer or base throughout our diet. So it is doable. It just, how do you do it in a way that's efficient cost efficient and GI efficient? So you're not worsening the outcome. So I am definitely spending on that question, hopefully that additional context gives you a more useful holistic answer to your question.
So we're onto question number five, and this is from ExBouncers.
He or she asks, what is the benefit of being in ketosis?
Great! A classic question, and let's see if we can handle this in five minutes. This is almost hard to answer because it's such a broad question. So let's just start from an evolutionary perspective. What is ketosis? Why does this state even exist? Well, ketosis occurs naturally when we're in a carbohydrate restricted state and we meaning humans in general, but also a number of different mammals, and humans are especially good at ketosis because we have very big brains, it takes upwards of 20% of our overall energy and metabolic needs for one single organ. And the important thing is that our brains are in a protected private sphere where fats cannot cross the blood brain barrier. So as we run out of carbohydrates, stored carbohydrate reserves, we need to have an alternate energy social rate to fill our brain and that form cannot be fat.
So our ancestors evolved this ability to convert our fat stores and part of the name of the segment the Free Fatty Fridays, the free fatty acids from fat are converted into ketones. So the process called ketogenesis. So what is the benefit of being ketosis? Arguably it's the default state of man. There's a great Richard Veech quote who was a prominent N.I.H. ketone metabolism researcher, who essentially the quote is the natural state of man is ketosis is starvation. We didn't evolve with fast food restaurants around every single corner. And the point he was making is that we would constantly shift between a fed satiated state and then dipping into our energy reserves, going to ketosis, converting our fat source in the ketones, as opposed to a lot of humans a day, especially in America or 88% of us are metabolically unhealthy.
And I believe a core root cause of that is that we no longer or ever dip into energy deficit. We're always an energy surplus and that's like stuffing more gasoline, more diesel into already filled a gas tank. You're going to cause metabolic damage by just jamming more and more energy into a system that's already overabundant of energy. And that's why cycling batteries is useful, right? You want to make some, the life span of a battery, you want to drain it down and charge it back up, bring it back down and charge it back up. You don't just keep jamming more voltage in already full battery. And a similar mechanism I believe is happening with the human system. So from that level, ketosis is just what state that we should be in, and we're in a very unique part of our history where famine is conquered famine used to kill the killer of humans.
And now chronic diseases, over-consumption obesity, cardiovascular disease, neurological conditions, metabolic conditions. Arguably they have a similar root cause with insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. And we had actually a great recent conversation with a professor of Benjamin Bickman, who wrote a new book called Why We Get Gick, that argues, articulate some of the evidence that suggest that insulin resistance, this notion of metabolic and flexibility is over consumption of energy, might be a leading contributor to a number of the chronic diseases that's facing our people and over the last 40-50 years.
So in that lens, ketosis is beneficial because we're not in this harmful state of over consumption of energy. Now what now? Now that we've covered kind of the overarching rationale of why ketosis is interesting, happy to dive into specific mechanisms. What are the benefits of being ketosis from kind of a something that we all potentially care about? Well, being ketosis means that you're burning your fat stores and converting stored fat into energy rather than having to be on this constant carbohydrate, glucose, pasta, bread, pizza run of just converting sugar, and candy, and bread in carbohydrate into energy. It means that we can actually improve body composition in improved fat mobility in terms of using some of that stored energy that we all have on our body. So it's great from a body comp perspective, to be able to tap into the store fat cells, rather than just constantly kind of eating and turning that kind of quick energy resource back out.
So that's just kind of a one interesting mechanism there. And then two, and this is something that I'm particularly interested in the research is that there's more and more data suggesting that ketones being in ketosis is a signaling state, a physiological state that signals longevity pathways. So the presence of ketones up-regulates FOXO3, which is a well-known longevity pathway. So maybe some of the benefits of fasting is actually mediated through the presence of ketosis. So you're triggering some of the longevity benefits of fasting calorie restriction through being in ketosis. Ketosis, ketones as an HVAC inhibitor, so it manipulates the unfolding and replication of some of the longevity pathways in our DNA. That's interesting. And that's just like a really interesting cutting edge of research where we're seeing good animal and starting to see some early, early pilot human data on the longevity benefits of better benefits of being in ketosis.
How much of that is just like not being a crappy state of being in a standard American diet of over consumption energy versus just being some more natural state. Maybe that's a scientific academic debate, but there's clearly value there. And then from the performance side or the therapeutic side, there's a lot of interesting research around ketones being a very preferred, efficient energy source for the brain. So which might have useful applications for not just enhance cognitive performance, potentially theatre pubic for cognitive dementia's. And then there's also the new and interesting emergent data around a physical performance can exonerate ketones or ketosis increase endurance, increase central nervous system efficiency. So you're getting better athletic and better decision making process, the conjunction of the brain body performing better with a better, more efficient fuel. And that goes back to the notion that ketones are a very efficient fuel with an increased efficiency across the electron transport chain in the mitochondria. Where are you getting more efficiency, metabolizing ketones than other substrates. That's probably worth a stand-alone question of itself, and I've already passed my five minutes here.
So what is the benefit of being in ketosis a lot? And it’s an actively researched area. So hopefully I'll keep answering those questions every couple months with new tidbits and new findings, that's coming out of researchers and academia today. Great question!
And that's a time we have for this week's episode of Free fatty Fridays. I know I have a lot more questions that you guys have asked, so don't worry it's in a queue. I'm going to get to them. And as always, thank you so much for allowing me the platform to answer these questions. I'm having a lot of fun. It's fun to be able to free form spit ball in practice, some verbal fluidity and verbal craftsmanship by answering all these different types of questions across so many different topics. It's a lot of fun for me. So keep them coming. If you have your questions or your questions that were sparked from this conversation or things that you're observing the world, write in at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out directly on social media, I’m @geoffreywoo on Twitter or Instagram, I'll check my DMs or just you just tag me, or you can also use the #FFFGeoff to over monitoring that. So any questions you using that tag, we'll put them in the queue, answer them in an upcoming free fatty Friday episode. I appreciate any support that you show across likes, subscribes, reviews. That's honestly the best way to show your support for our program. Thank you so much for all the support so far, and hopefully I'll talk to you very soon. Stay safe, breathe, clean air, and get educated, get prepared and stay resilient. Talk to you all very soon! Bye!